Saxophonist John Coltrane, Randalls Island,
New York City, c. 1958.
Courtesy of Chuck Stewart.
Born September 23, 1926, in Hamlet, NC
Died July 17, 1967, in New York City
“My music,” John Coltrane said, “is the spiritual expression of what I am—my faith, my knowledge, my being...” The grandson of ministers, he began his career in the blues clubs of Philadelphia, and throughout his career combined the sacred and the secular in the intense, earnest sound of his saxophone. His musical sermons, by turns somber and ecstatic, radiated his undying faith in music’s power to heal.
Coltrane fell under the spell of Charlie Parker at age 18 and dedicated himself to a practice regime that sometimes found him asleep, fingers still ghosting the keys. He first gained fame as a member of Miles Davis’s classic quintet in 1955, worked with Thelonious Monk, then took the lessons he’d learned from those masters and became a leader in his own right – and the most admired, most influential and most adventurous saxophonist of the 1960s.
“There is never any end,” Coltrane said. “There are always new sounds to imagine; new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that .. we can give ... the best of what we are.”
Learn more: www.johncoltrane.com
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